LESLIE: Bill in Illinois listens to The Money Pit on Discovery Radio network. What can we do for you?
BILL: I’ve got an 80 year old house that has wood lath and plaster walls and it has some water damage. I was wondering if you think it would be more prudent to take the wood lath and plaster out; replace it with drywall; or just try and repair the wood lath and plaster.
TOM: There’s actually a third way to do that, Bill, and that is to put drywall on top of the plaster; sort of skin the plaster. How big of an area are we talking about?
BILL: Well, it’s a ceiling probably about 15 by 15. I also have another problem. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it before; I’m sure you have. There’s a material on the outside of the plaster itself that looks like somebody just took their fingers and made designs …
TOM: Like a textured ceiling. Well, do you want a smooth ceiling, Bill?
TOM: Alright. Well, I’ll tell you, if you take that old plaster down, you can do it but it’s a big stinking, dirty job. I’ve got to tell you. It’s really a dirty job. So what you might want to do is simply take some half-inch drywall and then apply it on top of the plaster. What you’re going to want to do is use drywall screws; find all the ceiling joists ahead of time; and then attach it right to the ceiling by going right through the old plaster. This is going to sort of sandwich that plaster in, which will also help it become safer and more reinforced. Because sometimes, when plaster gets wet, the plaster that goes through the wood lath and sort of has little fingers that sort of grab the back of it, gets weak and that can fall down and hurt somebody. But if you put drywall up there, it’ll make a nice and tight and clean and even surface. You can simply spackle the joints and the drywall and you’ll be good to go. In your case, I think that’s going to be the easiest way. You’ll get rid of that texture you don’t like; you’ll secure the ceiling; and it’ll be the least disruptive.
BILL: OK, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Bill. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.